Strawberry Rye Tart

Strawberry Rye TartStrawberry Fields Forever
I planted my summer garden the weekend we got back from our Spring Break trip and already the plants are getting big.

I chose to move my garden closer to the house this year for a few reasons. The first is that with our busy schedule it is easier to remember to water the plants if the droopy garden is staring you in the face.

The second reason is chickens. My chickens will eat my entire garden if I let them, not just the bugs. Tomatoes are their favorite with peppers a close second.

The last and probably the most important reason is that having my veggies in a planter box by the side of my patio forces me to only grow the stuff that we will actually eat. I have a tendency to over-plant because I find it fun to share the wealth with others who love home grown veggies but don’t like to garden (or can’t because of space). My husband doesn’t see it the way I do. He just sees waste—and he may have a very tiny point. So I limited myself to four tomatoes, a bell pepper, green beans, cucumbers, and snap peas.

However, our plans went sideways because I took my daughter with me on the trip to the nursery. She is my gardening partner-in-crime and a bit of a bad influence. When she gets excited about growing something, I have a hard time saying no. This is how I ended up with two square planters full of strawberries…

Assuming I can keep the kids from devouring them off the vine, the potential for a lot of strawberries means that I have been looking for something other than shortcakes, jams, or pies as a way to use them.

This recipe came up in two different searches on two different websites. I couldn’t escape it. So I had to try it—if only because I was intrigued by the rye flour. The original recipe called for vanilla sugar in the mascarpone. I decided to use regular sugar and the seeds from one vanilla bean because I love that vanilla flavor. I also substituted honey for the sugar in the mascarpone because it tastes like spring.

Strawberry Rye Tart
Adapted from King Arthur Flour 
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Amy’s White Chicken Chili

Amy's White Chicken ChiliBack to Reality
It happens every time we go on vacation. Usually, the day before we are supposed to head home, my husband starts professing our need to eat better when we return to undo any of the caloric damage we have done while sipping Mai Tais and eating hula pie. Of course, this same conversation occurs after the holidays as well. It’s kind of a running theme. (But, I digress.)

Since returning from vacation, I have been trying hard to lighten up our meals–which has been more challenging than normal due to crazy sports schedules and the recent addition of braces for one of my sons. While he would love it, the last thing the dude wants to chew right now is a steak. Pasta is an obvious choice but my beloved and I are trying to cut back the carbs. Finding common ground ain’t easy. Plus, it’s still raining and grilling in the rain is not my idea of fun…

Last Friday I roasted two chickens ‘cause chicken is a good, lighter choice. (Full disclosure, I did make mashed potatoes for the boys. I may have had a bite.). Since my husband and daughter were away at a volleyball tournament, the boys and I were only able to get through one of the chickens which meant I needed to do something with the other. I chose to make this White Chicken Chili.

It’s surprisingly not bad for you! And, since April has been noticeably chilly, a nice and warming bowl after a day of work is a good thing. Bonus, using the pre-cooked chicken means it’s pretty easy to eat for the metal mouths….

Amy’s White Chicken Chili
Yields 6 to 8 servings

This is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight if you are starting with pre-cooked chicken.  I like to serve it up in individual bowls with a choice of toppings for everyone to choose from. Feel free to experiment with your own ideas. Read more…

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb On the Lamb
Growing up we didn’t do Easter Brunch. We ate Easter dinner at my Grandmother’s and there were strict rules that had to be followed. Along with the purple water glasses, it wouldn’t have been Easter without some asparagus, scalloped potatoes, and a leg of lamb.

My Grandmother took the traditional approach to preparing her leg of lamb which included stuffing whole cloves of garlic in small cuts all over the leg before roasting and serving it alongside some mint jelly. (Heaven forbid, we not have the mint jelly.)

As the rebel of the family, I like to buck tradition and butterfly my leg of lamb before I throw it on the grill.

Grilling a butterflied leg of lamb is super easy and you can play around with different flavors with the marinades or dry rubs. You could go Greek, Moroccan, Tejano, or whatever floats your boat. Of course, everything depends on the crowd. Not everyone wants to be transported to the markets of Marrakech for their Easter dinner—even if a grilled leg of lamb would be very tasty with couscous and grilled veggies. (Sign me up though…)

For Easter, I like to tone it down a bit and go with more Mediterranean flavors like this recipe for Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb — if you are able, try to marinate the lamb overnight. It is a simple yet flavorful marinade that will produce a tasty meal when served with grilled veggies, some roasted new potatoes, and a bit of a chocolate bunny for dessert.

Marinated and Grilled Mediterranean Leg of Lamb
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 8 servings

Our butchers will be happy to butterfly and trim the fat from the leg of lamb for you.

The uniform thickness of a butterflied boneless leg of lamb makes it easy to grill and serve. If you don’t have access or inclination to grill outdoors, the lamb can be cooked on a hot, lightly-oiled and well-seasoned, 2-burner, ridged, grill pan. Cook it uncovered, turning over once (about 12 to 14 minutes per side).

We recommend marinating the lamb overnight and up to 24 hours. Read more…

Mom’s Lamb Chops Recipe

Mom’s Lamb Chops RecipeWhen I moved into my first apartment after college, the first real meal I made for myself was my Mom’s lamb chops. When I say “real” meal, I am talking about something that didn’t involve boiling noodles or scrambling eggs. This was a legit, little bit pricey, complete with mashed potatoes and fresh peas, adult meal. To this day, I don’t know if it was the meal itself or the fact that I did it all on my own (and was now totally self-sufficient) but it was one of the best meals I ever ate.

Mom passed away recently and there has been a whirlwind of activity with all that this entails. So, on the rare evening that I have had time to make dinner for my family, I’ve noticed that I have been gravitating towards the recipes that were Mom’s. Her meatloaf is a great example.

My mother got such a kick out of the fact that I would write this blog every week. Mainly, because she knew all of the players in the family stories I would tell. Her only complaint was that she didn’t get as much credit for my culinary development as she deserved. And, she was absolutely right.

I have often talked about the recipes that my grandmother made, and they are all great. But, my mother was just as talented and prolific. And, the reality is, it’s the recipes my mother made for my sister and me that I serve to my own family on a weekly basis. I am still on the hunt for her New Orleans Barbequed Shrimp recipe….

Tonight I will be making Mom’s Lamb Chops again. There’s not a whole lot to the recipe. In fact, there are really no measurements—all the quantities in the recipe are approximate.

Mom’s Lamb Chops Recipe
The amount of marinade Mom made depended on how many chops she had. You can use whatever lamb chops you can find: sirloin chops, loin chops—whatever works.

Mom always used loin chops and we always got exactly two on our plate. And, always with mashed potatoes and peas.
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Sautéed Asparagus with Pancetta and Leeks

Sautéed Asparagus with Pancetta and Leeks

Amy is taking the week off from writing her blog. And, the Piedmont Grocery staff is filling in with this wonderful, seasonal recipe that highlights asparagus. Local fresh, green stalks have recently hit our shelves, and this means…spring!

This recipe for Sautéed Asparagus with Pancetta and Leeks makes a dish that is so delicious, it might be considered addictive. Our recipe says it serves four, but you just might want to double it.

And what is great about this recipe is that there is no carefully wrapping the stalks in the sliced meat. It is a very straightforward, one-pot dish that can be prepared quickly on a weeknight.

Toss some salmon in the oven to roast, slice up some crusty bread, and you have yourself a delicious meal that is fit for fine restaurant dining.

Sautéed Asparagus with Pancetta and Leeks
Yields 4 Servings
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